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Downtown Augusta rental space in high demand

Developers note lengthy tenant waiting lists

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When Dr. Fanta Kasiah accepted a position at Georgia Health Sciences University three years ago, she quickly decided where in Augusta she wanted to live.

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This 100-year-old building on Jones Street, which once held a garage, is one of three projects that will add about 30 apartment units in downtown Augusta by year's end.  EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
This 100-year-old building on Jones Street, which once held a garage, is one of three projects that will add about 30 apartment units in downtown Augusta by year's end.

“Downtown, of course. I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else,” said the 29-year-old obstetrician-gynecologist. “It’s nice to literally step out of your door and have access to so much – the nightlife, the parades, the Augusta Saturday Market, the fresh vegetables and cashews.”

Many area real estate developers and some downtown apartment dwellers say that Augusta’s downtown real estate property, especially on Broad Street, is in such high demand that there’s not enough available space to keep up with growing interest.

“The demand for downtown housing has been rising nationally, and that’s also apparent in Augusta,” said Yahya Henry, a local real estate broker with Prudential Beazley Real Estate and Ariba Development. “Current downtown occupancy levels are about 98 percent.”

“As soon as we build it, it’s rented,” said Margaret Wood-ard, the executive director of the Downtown Development Authority of Augusta. She said three apartment projects are under construction that should add about 30 downtown apartment units by the end of the year.

Woodard, who resides in downtown Augusta, said the local attraction for urban living space coincides with a national trend.

“It’s a good place for new (empty) nesters and folks who no longer need swing sets; those who want to relocate to a walkable community. We’ve got great restaurants, museums and theaters. It’s for people who prefer walking and riding bicycles,” she said.

Bryan Haltermann was sold on downtown Augusta’s potential more than two decades ago.

“We have a waiting list of people who want to live in our units,” said the president of Haltermann Partners Inc.

Haltermann’s latest project is at 1130 Jones St., a 100-year-old former auto-repair garage. Upon completion in December, the building will feature four 900-square-foot loft units, each renting for about $850 monthly, he said.

Haltermann Partners buys, renovates, leases and manages commercial buildings in downtown Augusta. Haltermann said he mainly advertises to potential residential tenants through the Craigslist Web site.

Typically, younger clients are the ones who search for rental space using the Internet, he said.

Kasiah rented her first apartment at the JB White Building and later learned of her current loft apartment by using Craigslist, she said.

“Most of my single friends live downtown. Perhaps one day when I’m married with a family, I’ll move to Martinez or Evans. Maybe when I’m 30,” she laughed.

Businessman Coco Rubio is considered one of Augusta’s original pied pipers when it comes to touting the benefits of living and working downtown. In 1995, Rubio envisioned that downtown Augusta could generate enough revenue to help stimulate the growth of his then-upstart lounge, the Soul Bar.

“Downtown is busier than ever,” Rubio said. “School has just started and college students are flocking all over the place. There’s a downtown Athens (Ga.) flavor here and it’s still growing and evolving.”

Mark Dempsey, 23, agreed with Rubio.

“I’ve been here for about three years,” said the Soy Noodle restaurant worker. Dempsey said he enjoys the convenience of living in the one-bedroom loft apartment above his place of employment.

“Importantly,” said Dempsey, “I save lots of money on gas, because I mainly walk everywhere I go.”

Haltermann leases Broad Street retail properties to Sae Shin, the owner of Soy Noodle House, and Bobby Morrison, who co-owns Metro Coffee House with his brother Kenny Morrison.

The Morrisons are in the process of opening an upscale restaurant-lounge next door to their existing business.

“We believe in downtown,” Bobby Morrison said.

Haltermann describes the young businessmen as nouveau entrepreneurs anxious to ensure that downtown Augusta continues to grow. “I consider them as my partners,” Haltermann said.

Shin said he’s noticed a steady increase in customers since opening his doors in 2009.

“I look for even more walking traffic once the TEE Center opens,” he added, referring to the riverfront exhibition event center expected to open early next year.

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seenitB4
90767
Points
seenitB4 10/12/12 - 06:18 pm
2
2
What

Did countyman write this article.....:)

countyman
20584
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countyman 10/12/12 - 07:05 pm
2
1
The Central Business District

The Central Business District is just a great place to live, work, and play.. Then you have Waters Edge and Olde Town who are wonderful intown neighborhoods right outside of the CBD. Hopefully the Kroc Center, Walton Oaks, & the Laney Walker/Bethlehem initiative can speed up the process in Harrisburg, East Augusta, Laney Walker, and Bethlehem..

omnomnom
3964
Points
omnomnom 10/12/12 - 07:36 pm
1
3
herp-a-derp! downtown

herp-a-derp! downtown everybody do the "downtowns happenin hop"

Riverman1
86881
Points
Riverman1 10/13/12 - 08:57 am
0
0
I think all downtowns are

I think all downtowns are attractive to young single people. On HGTV apartment hunting downtown is a common. Petula Clark song: Downtown.

Riverman1
86881
Points
Riverman1 10/13/12 - 02:32 pm
1
1
I wonder why she left the JB

I wonder why she left the JB White apartment?

Willow Bailey
20603
Points
Willow Bailey 10/13/12 - 02:43 pm
2
0
This is great news. So when

This is great news. So when are the shops opening? Pottery Barn, Williams Sonoma, Talbots, Brighton, Kate Spade, Prada, Hollister, David Yurman, Slane, Finicky Filly.....???

countyman
20584
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countyman 10/13/12 - 05:49 pm
2
0
High quality

Higher quality developments are coming in the future. The list of current developments below will help attract large retailers downtown, and hopefully Publix/Trader Joes.

Eros Bistro(Italian restaurant: 1002 Broad), Downtown Saloon(Bar: 1128 Broad), Boars Head Public House at 1135 Broad, Sprint Food & Metro Market at 851 Broad next to the common(open air seating, 1st floor urban market: restaurant/convenience store, and 2nd floor Sprint Food corporate offices and space for other tenants), Farmhaus Burger at 1204 Broad, & Whiskey Bar Kitchen at 1048 Broad...

Willow Bailey
20603
Points
Willow Bailey 10/13/12 - 05:58 pm
3
0
I hope you are right,

I hope you are right, countyman. I would love to see Augusta really succeed again

countyman
20584
Points
countyman 10/13/12 - 06:05 pm
2
0
downtown on the rise

The future of downtown Augusta is very bright. The properties downtown whether the city accepts the sealed bids or not will be redeveloped. The other additions include the GGHF site, renovated Fort Discovery(Discovery Plaza), Holiday Inn Express, TEE Center, and hopefully the new Artspace project soon. Look at the number of residential developments in the CBD alone.. 834 Greene & 220-222 6th street...

JB Whites = 34 new condos(51 total) opened this year, Johnson building= 13 apts completed this year, 901 Broad= 9 apts underway, 1120 Jones street= 8 apts underway, 920 Greene street= 6 apts underway, 1130 Jones street= 4 apts underway, 967 Broad street= 4 apts completed this year, 1204 Broad= 7 apts underway.....

85 new living spaces in the CBD this year either opened or underway...

kiwiinamerica
950
Points
kiwiinamerica 10/15/12 - 01:01 pm
0
1
Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain....
Unpublished

Downtown is a dive. Especially the part from 5th Street to the "Blue Sky Kitchen". Strip bars, empty store fronts and lots of sketchy characters wandering around. There's something of an improvement as one moves further up Broad Street towards 13th Street. Greene Street is quite nice but Ellis Street is very dicey. None of this will be changed by the opening of a few more bars and burger joints.

On that subject, let me remind readers not to be taken in by the Countyman "smoke and mirrors" act. Readers should note that the "new businesses" which are being touted by Countyman do not actually represent new growth. They are replacing other businesses which closed their doors and vacated the premises. One business closes, another opens. Net growth = 0. That's the way of the world. It doesn't mean we're in the middle of a boom.

scratchthesurface
26
Points
scratchthesurface 10/31/12 - 08:19 am
0
0
Of course, you move the
Unpublished

Of course,
you move the current tenants that already occupy downtown to south augusta under the "revitalization theory" and move your "CHOSEN" tenants in....at least use lubricant !!!!!

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